18    Oct 20144 comments

Our Stories: Reunite family, create stronger bonds

MyHeritage member Dayne Skolmen, 24, of South Africa, has been working on his family history since he was 14, when a family tree school assignment caught his interest. His ancestors come from Norway, Germany and the Netherlands.

Dayne's ancestor, Kristian Skolmen, working on one of his Norwegian landscape paintings

Dayne lives in Port Elizabeth, and is currently completing his Master of Technology (MTech) in Information Technology Research at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

His grandfather, Thorbjorn Christian Synnestvedt Skolmen, died at 81 when Dayne was only 3.

I was the last grandchild born and the youngest of my generation. Therefore I had the least knowledge about the family and grew up not knowing much of my heritage or surname origins. Continue reading "Our Stories: Reunite family, create stronger bonds" »

8    Jul 201416 comments

Our Stories: SmartMatches and a great-grandfather’s bible

Our members have such interesting stories, both personal and genealogical!

Pieter Brink, 74, was born in Johannesburg-West, Transvaal, South Africa, and today lives in Pretoria. He is bilingual in Afrikaans and English, gets along in German and converses in several Bantu languages such as Chinyanya, IsiTshwana, Sesutoe, Tzonga, Zulu and Xhosa – although he says he’s not fluent.

He began as a bank clerk in 1956, worked at several businesses, even at a gold mine, was a Christian missionary in Zambia and later retired as a deputy director of organization and work-study in public service. The new chapter of his life began on April 24, 1994, the same day the New South Africa was born, and he is a missionary and family historian/genealogist.

The Brink family celebrates: (From left) Henry Badenhorst (Pieter's son-in-law) Ansu Badenhorst (Pieter's daughter), Sarie (Pieter's wife), Pieter, and Surita Brink.

When he was 15, his father sent him from Wolmaransstad in the west to live with his grandmother Marja in the east at Belfast, Transvaal, where the family farms are located. That’s where his interest in family history began: Continue reading "Our Stories: SmartMatches and a great-grandfather’s bible" »

20    Dec 20123 comments

South Africa: Fashion, photos and family history

Leigh Toselli with her sons (from left) Devin, Rowan and Kieran

Leigh Toselli with her sons (from left) Devin, Rowan and Kieran

Listening to family stories as a child sparked Leigh Toselli’s interest, but - for her - it’s all about photographs and their stories.

A South African fashion, beauty and decor stylist, Leigh, 52, lives in Johannesburg with her French photographer husband Patrick and three sons (Devin, 25; Rowan, 23; and Kieran, 20).

Her biography reads like an A-Z of fashion, and she’s worked on every facet of image in the industry. She authored a series of books on beauty and image, and was also co-presenter of the South African version of the BBC show, What Not to Wear.

A few years ago, Leigh was trying to find a way of restoring, filing and sharing old family photographs.

Old photographs that gather dust seem so sad; all too often these are neglected and the names and faces forgotten. So I started asking the older generations to put names and anecdotes to the photos.

Family trees didn't really interest me, as they were simply a list of dates and names. That is, until I realized I could put faces to the names! Suddenly, my family’s history became a fascination - seeing family resemblances and spotting faces in old albums became a bit of an obsession.

Continue reading "South Africa: Fashion, photos and family history" »

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